Tag Archives: goodreads quotes

Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location

23 May

Before I begin today’s post topic, I have two things to address: 

First: Special thanks to Nicole Lee at “Ennlee’s Reading Corner” for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset:  “…The book alternates between the point of view of each of the main characters without a set pattern, and Ms. Thompson should be commended for her ability to create two characters that are similar enough to keep these sections from being disjointed, but different enough that the reader can tell in an instant who is speaking…”

Click here to read the rest.

As of now, Minutes Before Sunset is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon, 4 stars on Barnes & Noble, and 4.7 stars on Goodreads. Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed! An author always appreciates the dedicated and honest support. 

This picture means a lot to me. These are two great friends of mine that I met at the University of Kansas, William and Brooke Jones, and you might notice what William is holding: my first novel, November Snow. Support (and friendship) like this is priceless.

This picture means a lot to me. These are two great friends of mine that I met at the University of Kansas, William and Brooke Jones, and you might notice what William is holding: my first novel, November Snow. Support (and friendship) like this is priceless.

Second: As many of you know, I held another contest where the winners receive a free account at Happify, a website dedicated to bringing happiness to social media within a great community of encouraging peers. The winners are:

whiteravensoars: Random Acts of Writing (invitation sent)

Ky Grabowski: Welcome to the inner workings of my mind (invitation sent)

willowysp: Freefall (I need an email)

Nicole Lee: Ennlee’s Reading Corner (invitation sent)

Amber Skye Forbes: Writing Words with the Tips of my Toes (invitation sent)

Based on status, you’ll receive a confirmation. (If you don’t fell comfortable sharing your email on my comments, please send an email to ShannonAThompson@aol.com identifying yourself, so I can send the invite) Follow me here, so I can find you, and I’ll  be sure to follow back!

Now, onto today’s post:

I wanted to discuss “setting” in a novel, but I specifically wanted to share websites where you can find more information on your place (or perhaps browse the world for inspiration, even if your setting is in another world entirely.)

I think your background is a great place to start. Everyone has heard “write what you know,” and there is truth in it. Placing your novel in a place your extremely familiar with is the easiest route (not necessarily the right route), and this can make descriptions easier. For instance, Minutes Before Sunset takes place in Hayworth, Kansas. This is not a real town. It’s actually a play on Hays and Ellsworth, both towns in Kansas. I haven’t lived in these locations, but I have been to them, and I currently live in Kansas, so I am very familiar with the culture, layout, and how the weather works. Plus, I wanted an ironic name. Since the novel is about a dark fate, it only seemed appropriate (and humorous) to have a name that suggested the town was worthy.

In regards to familiarity, another thing to think about is your basic settings. By this, I am referencing your rooms. I’ve discussed interior maps before, and every house in Minutes Before Sunset is based off of a real house I’ve lived in (aside from Eric’s. That’s my dream home.) And the maps are available on the Minutes Before Sunset extra’s page.

Back to location:

If you’re looking for a place you’re not entirely familiar with, I wanted to give a great website out there for beginning, especially if you’re not positive on what you’re looking for.

Earth Album Alpha: This is a slick flicker collection of photos, virtually capable in regards to clicking anywhere on the map just to see an arrangement of pictures from the specific country. This can be very broad, but it can also help narrow down what you’re looking for. As an example, the picture below is of Serbia. (I clicked randomly.) You’ll see a collection of tiny pictures at the top, which you can enlarge, that will show the region. In particular, this country has a lot of beautiful fields, so you may not be interested in Serbia, but you might realize you want an open space, and you can go from there.

Earth Album Alpha

Earth Album Alpha

Do you like these tips? Join my Facebook page for more!

Do you like these tips? Join my Facebook page for more!

Weather Base: This website helps summarize what happens in regards to weather in the average year based on the location you choose. This is actually a traveling website, meant for tourists to figure out ideal weather to travel in, but you can learn whatever you want all over the world. I really recommend checking these things, because fallacies can happen in location, if you’re not familiar with how citizens live beneath the weather clouds. A good example of this is the famous young-adult novel, Twilight. Although Meyer set it in a rain-prone state, the amount of rain she used was very unrealistic to the location. In an interview, she even admitted that she visited for weeks without rain and was quite disappointed with her lack of research. However, she was delighted to bring tourism to the city that wasn’t known before. So there are pros and cons to everything.

American Culture: If you want to stay in the states, this blog is full of information about history, culture, language, education, and more. It even includes family arrangements, death rituals, and relationships to other countries where these things may have taken place originally. This won’t only help your setting; it can help your characters round out as they’ll have a family background stabilized within reality. For instance, it may remind you of the variation in language used across certain areas. An exact quote: “Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog due to immigration from the countries where those languages are spoken, and to a certain extent French, primarily in far north New England, due to the Acadian-Canadian influence, and in Louisiana (Cajun).”

My hopes is that sites like this will help the initial process of choosing a location you (as much as your readers) feel connected to as much as your characters will be grounded in it. 

If you have any other sites, comment below! And, as usual, if you have a topic you want to hear about, let me know, and I’ll credit your blog for asking the question on that post.

I hope everyone is having a great time! (Paperback news is coming soon!)

Goodreads Quote of the day“I was falling in love with her, and she was falling in love with me. It was fated, decided before any of us were born, and I hated it as much as I loved it. I could barely stand it.” (Eric, Minutes Before Sunset)

~SAT

Writing Tips: Picture Book

16 May

Many writers use pictures as inspiration and/or reminders as they write their novels, but what pictures should writers try to find?

Since I’ve come across many who use pictures, I thought I’d expand by showing many different kinds of pictures artists can use throughout the writing process. I’m even going to use my personal picture book that I began in 2007 when I originally wrote Minutes Before Sunset. So you’ll not only get ideas, but you’ll also see an extra from behind-the-scenes of my recently published novel! (Which, by the way, is now available directly on AmazonBarnes & Noble, SmashwordsDiesel, Sony, and Apple.)

The original Minutes Before Sunset picture book, 2007

The original Minutes Before Sunset picture book, 2007

When I was creating Minutes Before Sunset, as many of you know, I already had a novel published. I also had two others written. As much I can keep my characters straight, I often need to go back, because of the abundance of information. I find this completely normal, and pictures can help more than you think! On top of that, it’s actually quite fun to create a picture book.

As you might notice, my book is titled “Characters,” but it contains much more than just people. At first, I thought I’d only need people, but then I realized that I could also use pictures representing scenes, objects, and more. Before I start, however, I’d recommend using Stumbleupon, Pinterest, and model websites to find the perfect picture (or as close as you can get) to certainties within your novel. These websites are also good just to find inspiration. Maybe you have character you aren’t sure of. On a lot of model websites, you can literally type in a description to find portfolios of genders, ethnicities, and even height or weight. Granted, models are models, so the pictures of characters may be much more perfect than they actually are in the novel. Simply keep in mind that you’re using these pictures as a map, not a definite rule. And here are my three types of pictures:

Characters: 

This example page includes Mindy and Noah (originally named "Colton")

This example page includes Mindy and Noah (originally named “Colton”)

This is one of my many character pages. I show this one first, because characters are often the most important to start with when making a picture book, mainly because a lot of novels revolve around the characters more than the scene. However, this can be very different, and it depends on your writing style.

I normally have a page or more per character (for clothes, hair, eyes, etc.) But I included this simplistic version, because it’s two side characters. Mindy is Eric’s stepmother; Colton is Eric’s stepbrother. Fun fact: his name was changed to Noah during the publication process.

However, in terms of character, you can add much more information on these pages than just pasting pictures into a notebook. (In fact, I keep a character list on my computer on top of these notebooks.) But I add basic information next to their pictures. As an example:

MINDY: married to Jim Welborn 2 years, curly red hair in her face, cheerful, brown eyes, comes across as perfect housewife, oblivious.

COLTON: Mindy’s ten-year-old, annoying, pries, brown hair with pudgy face, brown eyes.

In this case, for instance, Mindy’s picture is of a very young woman compared to her age in the book, but I used it, because it had the type of hair, skin, smile, and eyes that I wanted. Those were the most important features, for me, to find.

Objects: 

An example of an object's page.

An example of an object’s page.

This is an example of an object’s page from my picture book. When I was younger, I didn’t expect this to be too important, but it is, because there are so many scenes where these things can become symbolic and/or useful. For instance, throughout Minutes Before Sunset, Eric wears a vital necklace to the plot. I have pictures of it, but the words had a lot of spoilers, so I’m adding this one of dresses instead. Objects can includes clothes, furniture, cars, and possessions like phones or gifts like flowers. I’d recommend not stressing too much about objects unless they are very important, but, at the same time, keeping repetitive information straight. This example is a dress that my character, Crystal Hutchins, wears towards the end of the novel:

DRESSES: silver party dress, seen as rebelling against the fancy aspect of prom, but it really flatters her. Hair will be down, for once, very girly for Crystal.

An interesting fact to keep in mind is this is simply the dress, not how she looks in it or what it would look like in the light of a dim dance floor. As great as these pictures can be, they can get confusing if you don’t keep these scene aspects in mind. That’s why I added another category.

Scenes:

This is an example of scenes given through pictures.

This is an example of scenes given through pictures.

This is an example of my last category. (Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!) I struggled with adding scenes into my picture book, mainly because I believed I couldn’t find the perfect pictures (or even something close) that I needed to make notes. But I was wrong.

I found a lot of pictures, and I kept most of them. The only thing I’d recommend is keeping in mind, much like the characters and objects, that these are maps, not definite rules. In this case, the first photo is a railing at night, and that’s accurate, but the second photo is simply a tree in snow, and it isn’t the correct tree. It’s only a photo I can use for inspiration during a snowy scene I write later in the series. Here’s the example:

SCENES: First, railing by river where Eric (Shoman) first meets nameless shade. Second, lamppost and road used mainly in second book.

I hope this picture book with the examples helps inspire you to try out a picture collection for your novels, while also having fun exploring the internet for inspiration! 

Goodreads quote of the day: “Fate was a reality, but it wasn’t a beautiful or angelic thing. It was a heart-wrenching nightmare. And we’d fallen blindly into it. We had no escape. It was happening, and it was up to me to guarantee our survival of it. (Eric)” ― Shannon A. ThompsonMinutes Before Sunset

~SAT

Writing Tips: Mother’s Day & Childhood Inspiration

12 May

Now, I have to admit that I’m unsure if this qualifies as “writing tips” or not, but I can’t seem to think of another way to explain it other than to explain recent events in my life and how I got to this decision to post about this.

On Friday night, I was driving home when I was hit by a drunk driver. Everyone was physically fine, but these moments often make you take a step back and wonder “what if?” or simply reflect on life. It’s also Mother’s Day, and, as many of you know, my mother passed away in 2003, so there’s been a lot of personal reflection happening for me over the past few days, and I wanted to share my thoughts on how reflecting can help your passionate spark if you feel as if it’s about to die.

Happy Mother's Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

Happy Mother’s Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

But, first, If you want something short and sweet, I posted this on my Twitter, and many followers found it comforting. “Do you sometimes feel like chasing your artistic dream is hard? This will cheer you up: click here.” 

Now–the bigger reflection: I’ve had more experiences in this sort of stuff than I’d like to admit to myself, but they always cause me to look back, and my childhood is often where I end up. I cannot say why this is other than it’s caused by a “flashback” sort of a thing. I begin thinking about what I’m grateful for, who I love, what I love, and everything that moves me from one day to another. But I’m going to concentrate on writing, because I want to stay in the “writing tips” as much as I possibly can.

So what in my childhood moved me forward into writing? (And many of you already know about my mother’s death being the biggest moment when I was pushed forward into taking it seriously, so, again, I’m going to talk about something else, although that is essential.)

Favorite Books:

I think this can be very important to remember, but, even more so, to return to every piece once in a while and read. Include first books, middle school reads, and beyond. On days where you’re feeling down, especially about writing, returning to these texts can spark your passion again, easily and without any strenuous effort. All you have to do is read, and you might be amazed at how quickly you’ll return to your timeless love for language, even if the original texts are simple and/or wouldn’t spark interest today if you hadn’t read it before.

Mine, as an example, includes childhood novels about Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo, young-adult series by Meg Cabot or Lynne Ewing (specifically Daughters of the Moon), and adult novels, generally memoirs like Mop Men, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or A Long Way Gone. I can even return to literature I loved in school, my favorite being The Stranger.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

Favorite Writing Experiences: 

These moments can bring back the original moments that brought you the utmost happiness before other moments brought you down. You can return yourself, especially to childhood, when you first started writing and you didn’t have the stresses of publication or critiques. These memories, although little, are very powerful.

My personal example? In second grade, my short story about my two dogs, Milo and Max, won the class writing competition, and I got to read it to the class. I still have it, and the drawings and wording often makes me giggle, but it also lightens my writing soul. I go right back to that podium, when I was fearless, and I feel it transition to today’s time.

Others who inspired:

Think beyond the top five people who inspire you today. Try to recall the first few who you may not remember on a regular basis but know that they linger somewhere in your artistic past (meaning they’re also in your artistic self today.) Most of the time, you might remember one, but then you’ll remember more and more, and you’ll soon have a list of small instances that led to your wonderful path you’re on today.

My personal example here is my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Metcalf. She was the first teacher to pull me aside and encourage my writing. When I was first writing back then, I was started my stories off with “Hi. I’m Henry, and this is my story…” and she taught me to start in the middle of action. I wrote her a story for Thanksgiving Break, and it started with a turkey running wild through a grocery store. Looking back on it, it was cheesy and poorly written, but she returned, having read the entire twenty pages, and encouraged me more and more, teaching me what else I could do in order to enhance my words. I was nine at the time, yet her teaching lingers today, and I’m grateful to have had such a wonderful teacher in my life at such a young age.

My hope is that you may take a moment today (or any day) to reflect on the moments that have brought you here today and remember never to give up on your dreams! It may seem cheesy, but it is, ultimately, very true, and I’m sure many of you know this, but many also have fleeting moments of doubt, and we can prevent these by reminding ourselves of what matters: life, love, and passionate dreams.

I always tell myself to write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. 

This is my personal philosophy, but I’d love to hear yours as well. Share below and spread the dream to others who may be struggling at this very moment in time (whether they read this today or two years from now.) Words are timeless. Let’s use that to embrace the love of art.

Have a great and meaningful day 😀

~SAT

P.S. Goodreads Quote of the day:

I leaned against the desk, ran my hand over my father’s paperwork, and picked up a pen. Turning around, I shoved it into my father’s hand.
“What’s this?” he asked, raising a brow.
“You’ll need it to sign my death certificate,” I said, pain vibrating my veins against my muscles and bones. “Are we done now?”

Eric, Minutes Before Sunset

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